12.17.2014

They’re Not Warm Bodies, They’re Employees. Train Them.

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‘Tis the season when everyone’s hiring temporary workers and contractors just to help them get through the holidays and

Bob, the temporary employee was so excited to set up the light display...it was only a small electrical fire
Bob, the temporary employee was so excited to set up the light display…it was only a small electrical fire

the end of the year. The mentality seems to be that as long as they’ve got warm bodies, they don’t really have to go through all the hassle of training them properly. They’re only going to be around another week, how much damage can they do? Really, you’d be surprised.

It’s kind of like letting a 12-year-old who doesn’t know how to drive take your car around the block. I mean, it’s just around the block. How much damage can they do?

Employees who haven’t been properly trained can horse around with the forklift in the stock room and end up hurting themselves or someone else. If they don’t know how to use the cash register they could wind up overcharging someone which causes bad PR for your company, or undercharging, which costs you money. They could mishandle an order, they could say or do something that’s lawsuit worthy, they could say something wildly inappropriate to your most important customer or vendor….the opportunities for disaster are endless.

So when you’re going to handle extra people for crunch times, have a plan in place for training them up properly. It’s just as important to have certain parts of onboarding with temporary employees or contractors as it is with regular employees. That includes parking rules, dress code, safety, compliance with employment law, procedures for using equipment, email and customer interaction.

You need a plan. You need written instructions—maybe not the whole employee handbook but something you can have people sign off that they’ve read. You need a clear job description. You need a management plan so your managers are prepared for lots of extra supervision. Maybe you offer classes, mentoring, one-on-one training, on-the-job training….something!

And if your temporary employee breaks the rules, don’t just shrug and look the other way. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the temptation, but remember that 12-year-old behind the wheel of your car. You have to discipline and terminate if a temporary employee or contractor is not following the rules. For one thing, you really don’t want the kind of morale you’re going to get with other employees if you fail to do so. For another, one small fail that you overlook could be the precursor to a much bigger one that you have to talk to your lawyer about.

Also, neither the state nor the federal government cares that this employee is only going to be around for a month. Paperwork is paperwork and if you haven’t done the proper documentation on each employee or contractor, they’re sure not going to shrug and let it slide on the basis that it was temporary. I promise.

Hiring a bunch of people who don’t know your company or products or customers is a necessary hassle during peak periods. You can make it infinitely easier, more productive and less scary by having a plan in place that tackles the contingencies and answers as many of the questions as possible.

And have a great holiday season!

We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.